The invention of a tradition

The invention of a tradition

Corso Vittorio Palermo by Vanvakys_8 copy copy“There was a pastry chef from Palermo called Salvatore Gulì, who, at the end of the nineteenth Century, decided he needed a specialty. At that point, his pastry kitchen on Corso Vittorio Emanuele began producing candied fruit on a near-exclusive basis. Like many Sicilians of tenacious mind, he set out to contradict a most deep-rooted opinion. Much like today, the reaction of a public faced with candied fruit at that time was predictable: repugnance. Nobody wanted it. Were it present, people were sure to separate and discard each piece with careful disdain.




cucuzzata foto by VRC copy 2 x webThe reason why Gulì convinced himself of the contrary, and believed that a candied fruit boom was on its way, remains unknown. The fact was that his pastry kitchen was soon crammed with butternut squash confection and preserved mandarin oranges. With his warehouse full and his business on the verge of bankruptcy, he had an epiphany, an idea that allowed him to recycle his fruit of God’s grace.



pa_villa_igiea_immagine4bis copyHe took his cue from a dessert of very ancient origin- the cassata- in the version of his day, which we would now refer to as “cassata al forno” (“baked ricotta cake“) and went from there: a shell of “pasta frolla”, or pastry crust, dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar, guarding a core of ricotta and chocolate. With this as a base, he worked from his imagination, and dressed the dessert with baroque style, pouring a sugar icing over the whole thing and mounting candied fruit on top as a garnish. Anyone was now free to ditch the decoration and savor the rest. The result was promptly named “Cassata Siciliana” so as to eliminate even a shade of competition from the most modest original cassata, which had suddenly lost its identity. The luck of the newborn dessert, and its inventor, was to have found a tremendous promotional vehicle. #6 Portrait of Franca Florio copy

The wealthy Florio family, which hosted royalty and aristocracy in Palermo from all over Europe, chose this new cassata as their signature gift. These guests of the Florio family left Palermo as involuntary testimonials, convinced that this colored mass of sugars represented the true Sicily. “Instead, it embodied only the facade.”

from  “The invention of a tradition” by Roberto Alajmo, writer, journalist, philanthropist offers some insight into the invention of the Cassata as we know it today.(Excerpt from “The Art of Getting Moving”, L’arte di Annacarsi, a book to be released this March)
Translation by



Etna vineyard _1 copy x webBecause of this one can speak of the various cultures of wine from the deep roots that are expressed today, above all else, in those who interpret, through their culture, their knowledge of grapes and their transformation.“In an era where the value of wine is strictly attached to its added value – according to Attilio Scienza of the University of Milano -


Piazza Armerina mosaics copySicily entrusts its hope to individual companies, to their men, helped in this, paradoxically, by the success of the wines of the New World (America and Australia)… However, it is not only the climactic landscape, but also the cultural and mental ones, which shape diversity. There is no other vineyard in Italy where one recognizes the man behind the wine as in Sicily.”




Etna in Springtime copy by VanvakysAlso here a short  excerpt by Eric Asimov,the wine expert of the “New York Times” on Sicilian Wines: “…Now Sicily is one of the most exciting wine regions in the world. That goes particularly for the reds, which are not heavy at all but fresh and lively. Whites, too, are emerging, especially those made from the savory carricante grape on Mount Etna.and  more..



Antico palmento _2by VanvakysWhat accounts for this explosion? Partly, it’s a result of a new, energetic generation of wine producers who embraced the island’s indigenous grapes at a time when many regions were looking past their heritages to capitalize on the world’s taste for international grapes like chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. As a result, Sicily’s new-wave wines immediately stood out as distinctive cultural emblems...Perhaps equally important has been a slight shift in taste in the United States, the proverbial pendulum swing, from heavy wines of power to lighter wines of greater finesse. In many ways this played to the strength of these Sicilian producers, who specialized in agile reds with invigorating acidity, particularly those producers around Mount Etna on the eastern part of the island and those around the town of Vittoria to the southeast.”




“The future of Sicilian wine must, therefore, depend upon modern communication that succeeds in profoundly encouraging the true appreciation for its myriad flavors and fragrances”The future is here today, and so we invite all of you who love Sicily, Sicilian wine, and its products, to participate in our project here on the internet – the most modern and efficient vehicle for global communication that exists.The cultural phase must be accompanied by the tasting of wine and other typical Sicilian products until all of the senses participate in the complete experience. To this end, we invite you, with much pleasure, to take part in our events. For the latest information on the subject, as well as the technical characteristics of Sicilian wines, please allow us to direct you to the title, See also OUR MISSION

English translation and Language Consulting : ON POINT TRANSLATION, LLC (except for THE FLORIO FAMILY)
Graphics and Web-design: AKSHU PURI (India), CARMEN MOLINELLI (Sicily) SALVATORE COTTONE (USA)

Web Programming: Akshu Puri (India)
First picture painted by: FRANCESCA OBERBECK,

Photos by VALERIA R. CASALE and 


stock-photo-copyright-symbol-as-a-wax-seal-80699464“Sicily Wine Stories and Legend from the Kitchen to the Cellar” by Salvatore Cottone is registered and copyrighted. December 5th 2006. see  COPYRIGHT OFFICE 



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